How to Change the Color of Leather

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If wearing the same old light-brown leather coat year after year makes you yawn, there's no need to toss it out or donate it to a thrift store. Spend a little of the money you'll save by not buying a new coat to purchase some of the products currently on the market that assist you in changing the color of leather apparel.

Things You'll Need

  • Several clean, soft dry rags

  • Water

  • Mild detergent

  • Alcohol-based leather preparation solution

  • Fine-grit sandpaper

  • Newspaper or drop-cloth

  • Bottle of colorant (with optional spray attachment)

  • Plastic or latex gloves

  • Sponge or foam applicator

  • Soap and water for clean-up

Prepare the Leather

Step 1

Use a soft cloth to wash the leather with a solution of mild detergent and water. Clean away any dirt or debris completely. Vigorously apply the leather-preparation solution with a second soft cloth. This will remove any residual dirt or loose dye and help to "open the pores" of the leather ( Allow the leather to dry.

Step 2

Gently sand the leather using the fine-grit sandpaper. Sanding prepares the surface for the colorant, similar to sanding a piece of furniture before staining or painting it. Don't over-sand the leather, creating a scuffed or nubby look. Avoid sanding any stitched areas on the leather. Wipe away all dirt residue and dust. If necessary, use a clean, damp cloth to lightly wipe away sanding dust, then allow the leather to dry completely.

Step 3

Spread newspapers or a drop-cloth over work area to avoid damaging carpet, flooring or furniture from drips, spills or mist from spray. Wearing gloves, shake the colorant well and apply to leather using the foam applicator provided with the colorant. Use light, even strokes to apply the colorant. Again, as when painting a piece of furniture, don't overlap the colorant, becaue it will create darker streaks. Also, if several coats are needed, allow each coat to dry before applying the next. Less is usually always better.

Step 4

If necessary, once the coated leather has dried, affix the spray attachment to the bottle of colorant, and give the leather a light, once-over with the colorant, holding the spray nozzle about 8 inches from the leather surface. However, if you're satisfied with the color, skip this step. Allow the leather item to dry and cure for 48 hours.

Step 5

Clean up work area and/or your hands and skin with soap and water (for water-based colorants), or use a small amount of alcohol on a soft, dry cloth or paper towel to remove fresh stains on color-safe areas(within 48 hours).


After the leather item has dried for at least 48 hours, it might be good to apply a leather conditioner to the leather to keep its newly colored surface soft and supple.


Use colorant and leather-preparation solution in a well-ventilated room, as the substances contain highly flammable ingredients.

Never smoke when applying the colorant or leather-preparation solution, or use near an open flame.

Changing the color of leather from dark to light, very light to very dark, or to a completely different color, such as red, green or yellow is not recommend using this process.